Synthesis and electrokinetics of cationic spherical nanoparticles in salt-free non-polar media†
Cationic diblock copolymer nanoparticles have been prepared in n-dodecane via polymerization-induced self-assembly (PISA). A previously reported poly(stearyl methacrylate)–poly(benzyl methacrylate) (PSMA–PBzMA) PISA formulation (Chem. Sci. 2016, 7, 5078–5090) was modified by statistically copolymerizing an oil-soluble cationic methacrylic monomer, (2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyl)trimethylammonium tetrakis[3,5-bis(trifluoromethyl)phenyl]borate, with either SMA or BzMA, to produce either charged shell or charged core nanoparticles. The electrokinetics were studied as a function of many variables (function of volume function, particle size, solvent viscosity, and number of ions per chain). These data are consistent with electrophoresis controlled by counterion condensation, which is typically observed in salt-free media. However, there are several interesting and unexpected features of interest. In particular, charged shell nanoparticles have a lower electrophoretic mobility than the equivalent charged core nanoparticles, and the magnitude of the electrophoretic mobility increases as the fraction of cationic stabilizer chains in the shell layer is reduced. These results show that cationic PSMA–PBzMA spheres provide an interesting new example of electrophoretic nanoparticles in non-polar solvents. Moreover, they should provide an ideal model system to evaluate new electrokinetic theories.